For years, remote work was the exception. Even though virtual work was trending up before COVID-19, it was still solidly in the minority. It was something that was only part-time or used in special circumstances. After the global pandemic forced as many companies that could to at least temporarily shift their operations away from the traditional office, the virtual workplace is here to stay.
Are Companies Still Using Remote Work?
Having a job in accounting is all about helping managers and owners to understand their numbers. In the case of virtual work, the numbers are clear. Employers are using it more and will continue to use it. Employees also prefer working virtually.
Before the pandemic, only 6% of jobs were primarily remote. About 75% of workers had never worked from home. As of July 2021, 46% of management, business, and financial operations employees were working remotely. Even as the world has opened back up for business, these numbers are holding relatively steady from the start of the pandemic. As of September 2020, 54% of employers had all or some of their employees away from the office. In April 2020, that number was at 72%.
While many employers shifted to remote work out of necessity, many employees have come to like it and view it as a benefit. About two-thirds of workers who were working remotely during the pandemic want to continue to do so. About half of those were based on concerns about the virus but half were simply a matter of preference. Glassdoor has also reported a surge in searches for remote positions continuing into 2021.
Is Virtual Work Working?
Even though companies switched to remote working out of necessity, they weren’t under any obligation to keep using it. In fact, with virtual work being used as an emergency response, it would have been easy for companies to switch back to the office as soon as they were able to. The truth is that working remotely didn’t go like many managers may have expected it to.
For years, companies avoided remote work out of fear of workers being distracted or simply avoiding working. They also worried about managers not being able to provide appropriate supervision. What the forced remote work experiment found was that employee productivity actually went up.
Remote workers averaged about 21.9 days of work per month versus 20.5 days for workers in the office. Office workers average ten minutes more in unproductive time per day. In jobs that track screen time or mouse movement, 56% of office workers found ways to evade the software compared to only 39% of remote workers. In addition, remote workers who did try to evade the software were slightly more likely to get caught than office workers at 51% versus 44%. When asked if they found it hard to focus during the workday, 8% of remote workers said it was difficult which was slightly above the 6% for office workers.
What’s in it for Remote Workers?
Many workers take pride in their work and find increased satisfaction when they’re able to be more productive. However, virtual work isn’t just allowing them to do more work. It’s also having direct personal benefits for employees.
About one in four employees have had to quit a job because the commute was too long. Sometimes, this can include a pay cut or a prolonged period out of work. More directly, virtual workers save an average of $4,523.04 in fuel costs per year due to not having a commute. That commuting time also adds up to additional free time averaging 8.5 hours per week, 34 hours per month, and 408 hours per year. That’s 17 days per year.
What Has Changed About Virtual Work?
The truth is that while virtual work is working now, it may not have worked a decade or two ago. Some of the managers who were against remote work probably had situations where someone working virtually didn’t work out. Today’s business environment is simply different.
One of the biggest keys to success in remote work is technology. In the days of fax machines and lack of remote access to office networks, many jobs simply couldn’t be done away from an office desk. Today, most office software is in the cloud and allows global access. Video conferencing and business chat tools allow communication that can be even more efficient than wandering through an office.
In addition, there has been a massive cultural change. Remember that before the pandemic, most workers had never experienced remote work and many had negative opinions about it. Today, people have both seen that remote work works, are used to working with people virtually, and know-how to be successful in a virtual environment.
Are You Looking for a Remote Accounting Job?
AccountingDepartment.com is one of the leading sources of outsourced accounting services. Our remote teams of bookkeepers and accountants provide bookkeeping, controller, advisory, and other services to companies with $2 million to over $100 million in annual revenue. To learn more about how we lead the way in remote work or to find out about our available positions, get in touch with our team.